It is very early days to fully understand Omicron, the latest variant of concern of SARS-CoV-2 – the virus behind COVID-19 – to be identified. Data is constantly pouring in giving us a better understanding of this mutated virus. While we are objectively seeing Science in action, it does get nerve-wracking just waiting to find out more.
But if apprehension is high, there is also good news. A monoclonal Antibody treatment developed by GlaxoSmithKline and Vir Biotechnology appears to remain effective against key mutations of the Omicron variant.
The findings are reported in a paper published on bioRxiv, a preprint server, and are yet to be peer-reviewed. It is preclinical data which means it has not yet been tested in human clinical trials.
The tests were conducted on a pseudo-virus with specific individual mutations sported by the Omicron variant. And the treatment, known as sotrovimab, continues to be effective as the active site that these antibodies use to attach themselves to the virus has not changed in any variant.
“Sotrovimab was deliberately designed with a mutating virus in mind. By targeting a highly conserved region of the spike protein that is less likely to mutate, we hoped to address both the current SARS-CoV-2 virus and future variants that we expected would be inevitable,” Dr George Scangos, Chief Executive Officer of Vir, said in a statement.
“This hypothesis has borne out again and again – with its ongoing ability to maintain activity against all tested variants of concern and interest to date, including key mutations found in Omicron, as demonstrated by preclinical data. We have every expectation that this positive trend will continue and are working rapidly to confirm its activity against the full combination sequence of Omicron.”
The companies are now testing the treatment against a pseudo-virus with all the omicron mutations at the same time and hope to have publishable data by the end of the month.